How did I become an associate editor for Journal of Applied Ecology? I had the luck of meeting Prof Simon Thirgood in the Serengeti National Park while discovering the study area and getting my head around the basics of data collection by the Serengeti Cheetah Project staff. We were basically both invited for dinner, we started to chat (and Simon was certainly someone fun to have a chat with), and I received an invitation a few weeks later. I was over the moon – this was my first invitation to join an editorial team, five years post-PhD. I’ll never know exactly how it influenced my career progression, but I believe it did help me establish an international reputation and ultimately secure a position as an editor. This was my opening door to the publishing world. I could have travelled to the Serengeti in another season, I could have worked on another project, and I may have never had the opportunity to join the editorial team of this unique journal. Quite a scary thought to think that, maybe, part of my career path was simply due to pure luck.
My story is not unique – most researchers join editorial teams based on invitations, and most invitations are sent to people recommended by editors. Who are the most likely to be recommended? Reviewers that deliver good reviews fast; researchers with recognized specific expertise; colleagues perceived as competent and reliable; mostly people known to editors. The same goes when it comes to inviting reviewers (those same reviewers who could one day be asked to join the editorial team): it’s mostly about who you know. Don’t get me wrong: the current system has many advantages, such as helping secure reliable editor team members and insuring high level of competence among associate editors. But the problem is: who we know is biased, defined by factors such as where we work, which language we speak, our gender or our age; and this is leading to a certain lack of diversity in most editorial teams.
So how do we break this pattern? At Journal of Applied Ecology, we believe it’s about opening up new opportunities for all researchers with relevant expertise to put their name forward and potentially join the team. We are therefore delighted to announce the launch of our mentorship opportunity, which aims to provide around five early career researchers with a chance to spend 6 months working as an associate editor for the journal while being mentored by one of the senior editors. The program will represent a fantastic opportunity to meet colleagues with similar research interests; learn about how journals work and what the Associate Editor role is about; and get to promote your research and ideas through our online activities such as this blog.
So if you believe you possess relevant experience, have never served as an associate editor, and want to give it a go, all you need to apply is to send us a CV and a letter detailing why you want to join us. This is your chance to carve your opening door to the publishing world – don’t miss it!